Chanakya Thoughts: Siksa and Siksaka

The new national education policy (NEP 2020) has been proposed and a lot of debate and discussion is happening about it. And rightly so, it is worth a discussion as the future of any country depends on the education it provides to the next generation.

For a futuristic approach it is said, “A businessman should plan one year ahead, a politician should plan ten years ahead, and teacher should plan one generation ahead…”
The real success of NEP depends on how we all together implement it. So let us look at how the education system (śikṣā) would be better through the right teachers (śikṣaka).
But, before that let us see what Chanakya, a great teacher himself, said about the education system nearly 2400 years ago. The Arthashastra is about training of a student to become a leader. We can learn a few things and make the next generation think like leaders than followers.

“Training and discipline are acquired by accepting the authoritativeness of the teachers in the respective fields.” (1.5.6)

The education system started with training the students with experts—what does that mean to us? We should have more experts teaching children, than just teachers teaching subjects. A teacher is important no doubt, but when experts come to schools or colleges, they can provide insights into the respective fields.

Imagine Sachin Tendulkar training the next generation of cricketers, or Vishwanathan Anand teaching about chess, or Narayana Murthy teaching about ethics in business. They can probably take one lecture a week (now online also) and guide students. These experts will bring in wisdom and insights for the next generation and inspire them. That is what Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam did lifelong. Though a scientist or well known as a missile man of India, he loved to be called a ‘teacher’ and died as a teacher on the lecture platform.

Next step is, the students should also be disciplined through training. That is one of the major roles of an educational institute. One of the most debated discussions in India is about army training for the students.

Chanakya believed that military training is a must for the next generation. It brings out leadership qualities and patriotism in full force. However, we cannot just leave education only to the schools, colleges and universities. Chanakya believed in holistic education. And every child is an outcome of three sources.

The family (Kula)

The first education starts with the family. The values and morals of a child starts from the values of the family itself. Parents, especially grandparents, have a major role to play here. Please spend more time with your children. Reading a book, telling a story will inspire them. Books like Ramayana and Mahabharata will be good source of discussion we can have at home also. It is said that if a child can find all his answers to moral dilemmas at home itself, he will never be confused in life. Unfortunately, we find more confused parents than confused children.

The teachers (siksaka)

Yes, it is not just the educational institution that matters, but also the quality of teachers. The teachers should be dedicated and updated themselves. It is good to note that our National education policy (page 42, 15.1) has given teachers training programme very high priority. Training is one thing, but teachers need to be personal mentors and guides too. If every teacher can spend ten minutes with every student individually and give confidence to the student, they will get transformed.

The friends (Mitra)

We have to give importance to this aspect in a big way. You are an average of five people whom you surround yourself with. Choose your friends carefully, they can make or break you. Chanakya used to train his students by putting them into the right groups of friends. A careful watch over the students will help the parents and teachers stay alert about the future of the children. Well to summarise this, we cannot make any education system work till we take the responsibility of creating a new social ecosystem. Let us do our bit to bring out the best leadership qualities in our next generation.

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